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Photography & media

Photography 'at home' in the anti-gallery

— July 2014

Associated media

Dan Shephert, Liquid Amber, Photographic print, 24 x 36 ins

The Heist team's work is innovative and bold, says Roy Clark

With photography long since claiming its place at the fine art high table, there has been in recent years a corresponding growth in UK galleries and art fairs specializing in photography-based media.

Taking this movement a step further, the self-styled ‘anti-gallery’ concept created by ‘heist’ dispenses with the traditional exhibiting arrangements of a gallery altogether to create a new type of viewing experience.

This first ‘heist’ display is shown over three floors of an elegant, if slightly faded, west London townhouse; there is nothing on the outside of the building to indicate the abundance of imagery within. The concept reminded me somewhat of the ‘at home’ gallery scene in post-cold-war East Berlin, which made use of the abundance of available and unoccupied large residences to showcase artists’ work.

 A major advantage of exhibiting in such a setting is the lighting. Light works on domestic interior spaces in a very different way to the even and controlled lighting of conventional modern galleries. The domestic setting, with its variety of spaces large and small, narrow and expansive, offers far more hanging possibilities. Additionally, small intimate works that often seem lost and isolated in a bright modern space are much more comfortable here.

The ‘heist’ team claim that the ‘anti-gallery’ concept creates a more ‘immersive’ experience than is possible in a traditional gallery. Certainly, the home setting does tend to make you muse on how the works displayed on the walls might look in your own abode.  This is, of course, very much the commercial point.  Heist’s appeal is aimed squarely at affluent folk who are looking to collect for investment and to furnish their homes.

Unlike in a more traditional gallery, the pleasures of viewer anonymity are harder to be had. At ‘heist’ the experience is ultimately a social one with the viewer/visitor/guest being very much part of the show. In this sense the ‘heist’ approach is perhaps not for everyone.

Understandably for a launch show, a variety of work is on offer in a myriad styles. The unifying factor is that all of the images exhibited are from emerging talent or more established photographers little known here in the UK.  Whilst the emphasis, not unnaturally given the target audience, is on the visually appealing and fashionable, I would have liked to have seen perhaps some bolder choices from among the photographers and artists currently working with photo media.  

Perhaps this is a little harsh, however, as there is some superb visual fare on offer. Alfonso Batalla’s haunting empty rooms, decaying spaces and voids counterpoise the shabby-chic rooms in which they hang.  Adam Thorman’s beautifully textured ‘waterways’, natural still-life images, and Dan Shepherd’s delicately multi-layered compositions from nature were my highlights. 

The ‘heist’ team envisage future invitation events incorporating performance art and fine dining all created and indeed curated to suit the style of the exhibited work. It is an innovative and bold move, a welcome addition to the London fine art photography scene and I wish them well. A visit to ‘heist’ is an enjoyable experience and any enterprise that aims to exhibit the work of new and emerging photo artists is to be welcomed

Heist’s inaugural exhibition is running until Weds 6 August


Roy Clark
Freelance writer and photographer, lecturer on the London Metropolitan University Photography & Digital Media degree programme and a consultant for Tandem Education Limited

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